Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Zombie films embody a dead genre because they just look repetitive. However, with all due respect to what other countries do, it took a Canadian film to convince me that horror films can be effective without having the budget of an American, Korean or Japanese horror film. By the way, if you're looking for a mainstream film that tries to be visually scary as much as possible, then skip this film, because the story only takes place in one place: the radio station of the town of Pontypool, which is actually located in the province of Ontario.

Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is a radio host who works at a radio station of a small town from Ontario named Pontypool. On one day, he learns through the news, along with his colleagues Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly) and Sydney (Lisa Houle), that many people in Pontypool display erratic and violent behaviour. Eventually, the trio learn from Ken (Rick Roberts), the radio station's "helicopter correspondent" that many people became zombies, so to speak. Besides, the infection is spreading through the use of some words in the English language. Later on, Grant, Laurel-Ann and Sydney are joined by Dr. Mendez (Hrant Alianak) who avoided being infected.

Given its low budget, Bruce McDonald's Pontypool has no difficulty to seize the opportunity to be more original than most movies of the same genre. Forget the extremely flashy special effects thanks to a big budget or even the attempt to show gruesome scenes one after another! This film turns the zombie genre upside down by efficiently showing the characters' fear not necessarily in reaction to what they see, but what they know about what's going on. In fact, as the film advances, the four characters try to know how the mysterious epidemic looks like and they get what they're unwillingly looking for: the description of what the epidemic does to people (erratic and violent behaviour). For that matter, let's acclaim the cast for its performance, because horror films that bring to the surface the characters' fear with such a nice development are rare.

Finally, Pontypool is a deliciously unconventional film for it relies a lot on suggestion rather than visual eloquence. Although Pontypool brilliantly combines horror and a little bit of humour (i.e. the absurdity of people trying to speak French in order to avoid being contaminated by the use of some English words), I doubt that the mainstream public will embrace this film. Anybody who is willing for a change should find this film very entertaining.

Rating: 4.5/5

Origin:Canada (2009)
Length:95 minutes
Screenplay:Tony Burgess
Director:Bruce McDonald
Starring:Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly, Hrant Alianak and Rick Roberts

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